Our team of professionals and staff believe that informed patients are better equipped to make decisions regarding their health and well-being. For your personal use, we have created an extensive patient library covering an array of educational topics, which can be found on the side of each page. Browse through these diagnoses and treatments to learn more about topics of interest to you.

As always, you can contact our office to answer any questions or concerns.


Acne

Acne is the most frequent skin condition seen by medical professionals. It consists of pimples that appear on the face, back and chest. About 80% of adolescents have some form of acne and about 5% of adults experience acne. In normal skin, oil glands under the skin, known as sebaceous glands, produce an oily substance called sebum. Read More »

Moles (Nevi)

Moles are brown or black growths, usually round or oval, that can appear anywhere on the skin. They can be rough or smooth, flat or raised, single or in multiples. They occur when cells that are responsible for skin pigmentation, known as melanocytes, grow in clusters instead of being spread out across the skin. Generally, moles are less than one-quarter inch in size. Most moles appear by the age of 20, although some moles may appear later in life. Read More »

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin condition that creates red patches of skin with white, flaky scales. It most commonly occurs on the elbows, knees and trunk, but can appear anywhere on the body. The first episode usually strikes between the ages of 15 and 35. It is a chronic condition that will then cycle through flare-ups and remissions throughout the rest of the patient's life. Psoriasis affects as many as 7.5 million people in the United States. About 20,000 children under age 10 have been diagnosed with psoriasis. Read More »

Rashes

"Rash" is a general term for a wide variety of skin conditions. A rash refers to a change that affects the skin and usually appears as a red patch or small bumps or blisters on the skin. The majority of rashes are harmless and can be treated effectively with over-the-counter anti-itch creams, antihistamines and moisturizing lotions. Read More »

Rosacea

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that causes facial redness, acne-like pimples, visible small blood vessels on the face, swelling and/or watery, irritated eyes. This inflammation of the face can affect the cheeks, nose, chin, forehead or eyelids. More than 14 million Americans suffer from rosacea. It is not contagious, but there is some evidence to suggest that it is inherited. There is no known cause or cure for rosacea. There is also no link between rosacea and cancer. Read More »

Skin Cancers

Skin cancer is the most common form of human cancers, affecting more than one million Americans every year. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives. Skin cancers are generally curable if caught early. However, people who have had skin cancer are at a higher risk of developing a new skin cancer, which is why regular self-examination and doctor visits are imperative. Read More »

Warts

Warts are small, harmless growths that appear most frequently on the hands and feet. Sometimes they look flat and smooth, other times they have a dome-shaped or cauliflower-like appearance. Warts can be surrounded by skin that is either lighter or darker. Warts are caused by different forms of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). They occur in people of all ages and can spread from person-to-person and from one part of the body to another. Warts are benign (noncancerous) and generally painless. Read More »

Wrinkles

Wrinkles are a natural part of the aging process. They occur most frequently in areas exposed to the sun, such as the face, neck, back of the hands and forearms. Over time, skin gets thinner, drier and less elastic. Ultimately, this causes wrinkles - either fine lines or deep furrows. In addition to sun exposure, premature aging of the skin is associated with smoking, heredity and skin type (higher incidence among people with fair hair, blue-eyes and light skin). Read More »

  Generalized_morphea_intro.png
Generalized morphea: This type of scleroderma causes widespread patches of hard, thickened skin.

What is scleroderma?

When a person has scleroderma (sclare-oh-dur-muh), the body makes too much collagen. This excess collagen, the substance that holds our body together, causes hardening and tightening.

Most people have hardening and tightening on their skin. Scleroderma means “hard skin.” But this disease can affect more than the skin. Joints, muscles, and even internal organs like the kidneys and lungs can harden and tighten.

Many people who have scleroderma lead normal – or almost normal – lives.

Where you have the hardening and tightening varies with the type of scleroderma you have. When scleroderma affects the skin and sometimes the underlying tissue, a person has localized scleroderma.

There are many types of localized scleroderma, including:

Morphea.png
Morphea on skin
Morphea (more-fee-uh): People see 1 or a few patches of thickened skin, which are usually red or purple. The patches can itch but are usually painless. Sometimes the excess collagen develops deep in the skin. In rare cases, morphea affects muscle.
Generalized_morphea_2.png
Patches of morphea on patient's back
Generalized morphea: Patches of morphea can develop on different areas of the body. The patches can grow together. Some people see a band of thickening skin on an arm or leg. This type can go deep into the tissue beneath the skin.
Linear-scleroderma.png
Linear morphea on lower leg and foot
Linear scleroderma: Often beginning in childhood or the teenage years, this type causes a line of thickening skin, usually on an arm or leg. The hardening can extend beyond the skin, going deep into to the muscle and sometimes the bone.
En-coup-de-sabre.png
En coup de sabre on forehead
En coup de sabre: A line of thickened skin forms on the scalp, face, or both, and the tissue beneath disappears.

A person with a mild case develops a bit of tissue loss. En coup de sabre can also be disfiguring.

A dermatologist can use a filler, such as hyaluronic acid, to restore the face.

When scleroderma affects an internal organ, the person has a type of scleroderma called systemic sclerosis. There are 2 types of systemic sclerosis:

Limited-cutaneous-scleroderma.png
Sores and calcium deposits on fingers
Limited cutaneous scleroderma: This often develops slowly. Hard, thick, and tight skin usually forms below the elbows and knees and sometimes on the face and neck.

Many people develop calcium deposits beneath their skin and sores, as show here.

The hardening can also occur in the digestive tract and internal organs like the lungs. The health problems caused by this type are less serious than those caused by diffuse cutaneous scleroderma.
Diffuse-cutaneous-scleroderma.png
Woman is unable to straighten her fingers
Diffuse cutaneous scleroderma: In just a few weeks or months, hard, thickened skin can develop on many areas of the body. The excess collagen also develops on one or more internal organ.

The hardening can cause a person to lose the ability to move freely. The patient shown in this picture lost the ability to straighten her fingers.

Under the care of a team of doctors who specialize in different areas of the body, it may be possible to manage this type.

There is no cure for scleroderma, but treatment can help reduce the effects of this disease.

Because scleroderma can affect the body in so many ways, many people who have scleroderma receive treatment from a team of medical specialists. A dermatologist may be a part of this team and can treat problems with the skin.

Images used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology:

  • Images 1 - 4: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011;64(2):217-28.
  • Image 5: J Am Acad Dermatol 2012;67(4):769-84.
  • Image 6: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011;65(1):1-12
  • Image 7: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2000;43(4)670-74.

 


References
Denton, CP and Black CM. “Scleroderma (systemic sclerosis).” In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, et al. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine (seventh edition). McGraw Hill Medical, New York, 2008:1553-62.

 

Falanga V and Killoran CE. “Morphea.” In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, et al. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine (seventh edition). McGraw Hill Medical, New York, 2008:543-6.

Fett N and Werth VP. “Update on morphea: Part I. Epidemiology, clinical presentation, and pathogenesis.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2011;64(2):217-28.

Fett N and Werth VP. “Update on morphea: Part II. Outcome measures and treatment. J Am Acad Dermatol 2011;64:231-42.

Rőcken M and Ghoreschi K. “Morphea and lichen sclerosus.” In: Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. (second edition). Mosby Elsevier, Spain, 2008:1469-76.

Walls A, Goldberg D, et al. “Correction of morphea en coup de sabre with hyaluronic acid filler.” Presented as a poster at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology and published in the J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012:66(4) AB209. No commercial support identified.

Zwischenberger BA and Jacobe HT. “A systematic review of morphea treatments and therapeutic algorithm.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2011;65(5):925-41.


© American Academy of Dermatology. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication strictly prohibited without prior written permission. Use of these materials is subject to the legal notice and terms of use located at https://www.aad.org/about/legal